Paradise (formerly, Leonards Mill and Poverty Ridge) is an incorporated town in Butte County, in the northwest foothills of California's Central Valley, in the Sierra. The town is considered part of the Chico Metropolitan Area. The population was 26,408 at the 2000 census. Paradise is some 8 miles (13 km) east of Chico and 100 miles (160 km) north-northeast of Sacramento.
The town of Paradise is spread out on a wide ridge which rises between deep canyons on either side. These canyons are formed by the west branch of the Feather River to the east, and Butte Creek to the west. The Paradise area extends northwards from Paradise to include the unincorporated town of Magalia and smaller communities such as Stirling City to the far north. Elevations in the town range from around 1500 to 2300 feet (450 to 700 m), steadily increasing as one travels northwards. The town is approximately 8 miles (13 km) east of the city of Chico, and 10 miles (16 km) north of the Oroville area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.2 square miles (47.3 km²), all of it land.
The first post office was established at Paradise in 1877; it closed for a time in 1911, but was re-established later that year, when the post office at Orloff was closed. Paradise incorporated in 1979.
As of the census of 2000, there were 26,408 people, 11,591 households, and 7,244 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,447.1 people per square mile (558.7/km²). There were 12,374 housing units at an average density of 678.1/sq mi (261.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.73% White, 0.19% Black or African American, 1.07% Native American, 1.04% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 1.21% from other races, and 2.64% from two or more races. 4.27% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 11,591 households out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.7% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.77.
In the town the population was spread out with 20.4% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 21.2% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 27.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 87.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $31,863, and the median income for a family was $41,228. Males had a median income of $35,419 versus $25,231 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,267. About 9.7% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.6% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.
The State of California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development defines Feather River Hospital as a General Acute Care Hospital in Paradise with Basic emergency care as of August 22, 2006. The facility is located at (NAD83) latitude/longitude .
Paradise is served by Paradise Unified School District as well as several independent Charter and Private Schools. PUSD schools include:
Cedarwood Elementary School (K-5) Paradise Elementary School (K-5) Ponderosa Elementary School (K-5) Pine Ridge School (K-8) Paradise Intermediate School (6-8) Paradise High School Ridgeview High School (continuation) Honey Run Academy Elementary & Secondary (2 community day schools) Children's Community Charter School (K-8) Paradise Charter Middle School (6 -8) HomeTech Charter School (K -12)
Other Paradise Schools include: Achieve Charter School Paradise Adventist Academy
There are not many options for transportation within Paradise other than driving an automobile. The Paradise/Magalia area is served by the "B line" Butte County Transit. Butte Community College also runs bus service for students. The Paradise Memorial Trail is a paved pedestrian and bicycle path which runs through town on the path of the former railroad tracks leading up the ridge. However, aside from points along this path, the very hilly terrain of the town, coupled with the large spacing of commercial areas and large land area make Paradise difficult to navigate on foot or on a bicycle, in addition to the lack of sidewalks.
The main road through town, and Paradise's link with Chico is known as The Skyway, or simply "Skyway". Skyway begins in the Valley, at the Highway 99 Freeway in Chico, and runs up the ridge as a 4-lane divided highway until it reaches Paradise. Through the town it is a four-lane undivided highway, and it becomes a two-lane road as it continues up the Ridge to Magalia and numerous smaller communities to the north. Paradise is connected to Oroville via Highway 191, otherwise known as Clark Road upon entering the town.
Paradise Skypark, (FAA identifier: Q88), is located parallel to State Route 191 and south of the town at.
Scenes from Gone With The Wind were filmed in Paradise off of Stark Lane.
In June 2008, a wildfire, named the "Humboldt Fire" for its point of origin, swept over 22,800 acres of land between Chico and Paradise. As many as 9300 people were forced to evacuate southwestern Paradise until the fire could be brought under control. . Also in July 2008 another fire, the Camp Fire, burned on the northern side of Paradise in the canyon where the Feather River is located. Again, thousands were evacuated from their homes, but the fire failed to cross the river.